Redbridge remembers the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela

File photo dated 29/06/08 of former South African President Nelson Mandela during his meeting with Conservative Party...

File photo dated 29/06/08 of former South African President Nelson Mandela during his meeting with Conservative Party leader David Cameron at The Dorchester in central London. - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

In the wake of Nelson Mandela’s death, Redbridge residents and politicians have been reflecting on his legacy and the impact he had on their lives.

The former South African president died yesterday evening aged 95 at home in Johannesburg, where he was being treated for a lung infection.

He was imprisoned for 27 years for his relentless work against racism before leading the country’s transition out of apartheid in the 1990s.

Ilford South MP Mike Gapes visited South Africa while working in neighbouring Swaziland in the early 1970s and joined anti-apartheid protests as a student.

He said: “I heard Mandela speak on his first visit to England after his release from prison and went to the Wembley concert. It was absolutely huge.


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“He was one of those rare, truly great people.

“There are still problems and challenges in South Africa and there’s a huge disparity of wealth.

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“But what he’s done is create the political model of reconciliation and a non-racial country.”

Ilford North MP Lee Scott praised Mr Mandela’s ability to forgive those who wronged him.

“His death should be mourned but his life celebrated. He had something had very few people do and that’s his forgiveness.

“All the things that happened to him and the years and years in prison - I’ve never seen anything like it.

“He was a great man and it’s a great loss.”

Chingford and Woodford Green MP Iain Duncan Smith called Mr Mandela “a remarkable man in every way”.

He added: “He was a man who was prepared if necessary to die for his beliefs, battling against an injust system.

“And yet when he was released from prison after 27 years, he showed the world that through humility and a desire for reconciliation you can build a peaceful society.

“He taught us that a man armed only with humility, determination and a concern for others can achieve anything.”

Leyton and Wanstead MP John Cryer called Mr Mandela a “unique figure”.

He added: “When he was imprisoned South Africa was seen as a friendly nation by many in the west and there must have been times when it seemed like the world was against him.

“Yet he managed to show that peaceful compromise and reconciliation was the way forward rather than vengeance.

“He also showed that those who prevail tend to be people who can sustain the most rather than those who can conflict the most.”

Did you meet Mr Mandela? How did he affect your life? Email lizzie.dearden@archant.co.uk

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